[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----FLA., CALIF., N.C., OHIO
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Nov 8 09:24:03 CST 2004
State justices reject man's death sentence
The state Supreme Court reversed the death sentence of a man in the
slaying of his cellmate because the trial judge refused to excuse a former
death row guard from the jury.
The death sentence a prison inmate received for murdering his cellmate has
been overturned by the Florida Supreme Court, which said the trial judge
improperly refused to excuse a former Death Row prison guard from the
Elton Ard was strangled in his cell at Columbia Correctional Institution
in Lake City in July 2000.
Andrew Busby and another inmate were locked in the cell with Ard, who was
serving a life sentence.
Busby, 26, was serving a life sentence for attempted murder. He and the
other inmate confessed to killing Ard.
In Thursday's 4-3 ruling, Florida's high court said Busby's murder
conviction and death sentence had to be vacated because the judge refused
to dismiss a potential juror who had worked as a death row guard.
That someone works as a prison guard is not reason by itself to dismiss
the person from a jury, but the answers given by the former guard to
questions from Busby's attorney raised red flags about his ability to be
impartial, the decision said.
When a defense attorney's request to have the guard rejected ''for cause''
was denied, the lawyer was forced to use a ''peremptory challenge'' to
reject the juror.
"Peremptory challenges," let attorneys excuse potential jurors without
citing a reason, but they are limited in the number of such challenges.
Busby's defense team ran out of peremptory challenges and had to accept
another jury that it would have rejected had it not been forced to use a
challenge on the former guard.
(source: Associated Press)
CALIFORNIA----foreign national gets death sentence
Jury recommends death sentence for robbery-killing
In Rancho Cucamonga, a jury recommended the death sentence for a Honduran
immigrant who shot an acquaintance to death during a home invasion robbery
as her horrified children listened from the next room.
Johnny Morales was convicted Sept. 24 of killing Elia Torres Lopez in her
Bloomington home after following her and her 4 children home from a market
in Fontana in 2001.
"It was a cold calculated crime by a cold calculated killer," said Deputy
District Attorney David Mazurek. "He is one of the baddest people I have
ever come across."
Prosecutors said Morales and others followed Lopez and her children home,
then forced their way inside and herded her children into a back bedroom
as they ransacked the house. They said Morales, 26, confessed to killing
her after she recognized him and called out his name.
The jury that convicted Morales recommended Friday that he be executed. He
is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 21 by Judge Ingrid Uhler who has the
option of giving him death or life in prison without possibility of
Amid debate, prison moves ahead with plans for new death row
Standing on the roof of California's death row, Warden Jill Brown looks
down at a row of exercise yards and sees troubling possibilities. One old
wall and a strip of grass stands between condemned men and the glittering
expanse of the San Francisco Bay.
"It's a little bit scary," she says.
Brown and state prison officials say the old-fashioned and crowded death
row at San Quentin State Prison must be replaced, and soon. They are
moving ahead with a planned $220 million complex that would be much more
But outside prison walls, opposition is mounting.
"I would think that a state that is in terrible fiscal condition like
California would be very careful about every expenditure," says state
Assemblyman Joe Nation, D-San Rafael. "I'm hopeful that they will take
another look at this."
Nation, whose district includes San Quentin, agrees conditions at the
prison are "terrible." But he says officials haven't looked at
alternatives carefully enough, pointing to a state auditor's report which
found the Corrections Department failed to adequately examine long-term
costs and benefits of building a replacement facility.
Arguments from people living in surrounding Marin County - affluent and
liberal - include opposition to capital punishment and complaints the new
facility will be a brightly lit eyesore. But the main contention, says
county Supervisor Steve Kinsey, is that spending millions to shore up a
152-year-old facility is a mistake, particularly when that facility is
sitting on a prime slice of waterfront.
"You take a rotten site and you put a new facility on it, what you're
doing is putting frosting on a rotten cake," Kinsey said at a recent
In a telephone interview, Kinsey said he's not advocating that the prison
be closed but he is adamantly against a new death row. "It denies the
entire region a remarkable piece of land," he said.
Prison officials say they have been looking at the situation for a decade
and don't see any other options.
They estimate it would cost far more - about $800 million - to move the
prison and note that other counties aren't anxious to become the new home
of death row.
Meanwhile, the current death row, designed 70 years ago to hold 68, has
grown to more than 600 men quartered in 3 aging buildings.
"I would turn the question around. Can we afford not to build it?" says
J.P. Tremblay, assistant secretary of the state's Youth and Adult
Construction of the new facility, approved by former Gov. Gray Davis and
supported by the current administration, could start in about a year.
The new building would be built on San Quentin grounds, replacing a
collection of small buildings known as "The Ranch." It would have 1,024
cells with the capacity for 1,408 inmates. The building would consist of
two semiautonomous maximum security facilities, and would be surrounded by
lethal electrified fencing.
A recently completed draft of the environmental impact report found that
the project would affect how the area looks as well as water use. However,
the report said moving death row or closing the entire prison would be
worse because of the environmental impacts those options would entail. The
report also noted that neither alternative is within the Corrections
Prison spokesman Lt. Vernell Crittendon says the new facility, to be built
on prison grounds, won't have a big visual impact and will "actually
improve the area that we will be building on."
Underscoring the debate is the ongoing argument over the merits of capital
Recently, the Conference of Delegates of the California Bar Associations,
representing prosecutors, criminal defenders and civil attorneys from
dozens of bar groups, recommended a death penalty moratorium while an
inquiry is held on whether the system is fair.
Prison officials say the politics of the death penalty are outside their
"We have to deal with reality," says Crittendon. "And reality is there are
629 males sentenced to death in the state of California. And the state of
California has a responsibility to provide adequate housing and services
for that population."
Their stay is likely to be a long one. While hundreds of death sentences
have been handed out, only 10 men have been executed since capital
punishment was reinstated in California 3 decades ago.
Inside death row, reaction to the proposed new quarters varied.
"You're going to be in a 4 1/2-by-10 (foot) cell no matter where you go,"
said Richard Wade Farley, 56, a former computer programmer in Silicon
Valley who was sentenced to die for killing 7 people and wounding 5 others
after he was fired for harassing a female co-worker.
But Richard Moon, 37, who was sentenced to death in 1991 for killing 2
women, welcomed the idea of modern facilities that might provide work or
educational programs as a reward for good behavior.
"A lot of people up here don't feel like they have any self-worth because
of where they are," he said.
Moon and Farley are in the original death row, built in 1934 and the least
crowded of the facilities. Other inmates live in a 1927 building that
evokes an old prison movie with its 5 tiers of cells fronted by narrow
walkways, and in the Adjustment Center, reserved mainly for the "baddest
of the bad."
The sprawling setup means officers spend hours transporting prisoners.
Wheelchairs and walkers are now becoming common for the aging population,
but the existing cells aren't handicapped accessible.
Meanwhile, there are plenty of able-bodied inmates who pose a threat to
officers. The new, self-contained facilities with remote-control locks and
solid doors would minimize face-to-face contact and chance of injury,
Pinned to a wall of a death row office, racks of cards bearing the
mugshots and names of inmates are a Who's Who of notorious criminals.
There is Richard Allen Davis, who kidnapped and killed 12-year-old Polly
Klaas in 1993. He is a prime target for other inmates because his crimes
helped pass a law mandating stiff sentences for repeat offenders. Davis
stays away from communal exercise yards, prison officials say.
Also in the Adjustment Center are two inmates who tried to escape with a
plan to scale the exercise wall that had Warden Brown so concerned as she
toured the prison on a balmy fall day.
After the foiled escape attempt, the wall was augmented by chain link
fencing and razor wire so sharp it can shear off the wing of the
unfortunate bird who flies too close. And, of course, there are armed
officers always watching.
"No warning shots fired in this yard," declare prominently posted signs.
Still, Brown wonders what would happen in a strong earthquake.
"That wall that you see there ... is the only thing that separates those
inmates from the bay," she says.
ON THE NET----http://www.corr.ca.gov/
(source for both: Associated Press)
Exonerated N.C. Man Starts Foundation
A man exonerated after spending 18 years in prison on a murder conviction
has started a nonprofit foundation to help investigate inmates' innocence
The Darryl Hunt Project for Freedom and Justice, incorporated in the past
week, also will help freed inmates rejoin society.
"I wanted to help other people, to give them a voice, because I know I was
fortunate to have people supporting me and speaking up for me," Hunt said.
"I was innocent, and I know how hard it is for people who are in prison to
have voices on the outside to speak up for them."
Hunt was convicted in the 1984 slaying of Deborah Sykes, a newspaper copy
editor in Winston-Salem. DNA evidence proved in 1994 that Hunt was not the
man who had raped Sykes, but he was released only this year, after the
evidence led authorities to a new suspect they say acted alone in killing
Hunt said he wants to hire private investigators to look at cases in
Forsyth County and expand the operation later. He plans to finance the
foundation through fund-raisers and money he earns in speaking fees.
(source: Associated Press)
Death Row Scot puts artwork up for sale
Death Row Scot Kenny Richey is selling his artwork on the internet to
raise cash for his campaign.
Edinburgh-born Richey, who has spent nearly 18 years in an Ohio prison,
has been churning out drawings and paintings from his cell.
Now his partner, Karen Torley, is helping to sell his handiwork via online
Two of the prisoners pictures, which follow a Scots theme, are currently
up for grabs with bids starting at 4.95.
One of the pictures on sale is a coloured pencil portrait of Scots boxer
The 2nd piece is a landscape entitled River and Boat - a painting on paper
inspired by Richeys memories of the Scottish landscape. Ms Torley, who
lives in Glasgow, is hoping the sale of the paintings will raise awareness
of Richeys plight, as he awaits news of his appeal against a death
sentence passed in 1987.
She said today: "Kenny loves drawing and painting and making things - hes
always been good at stuff like that. His dream is to build his own house.
"He has done several pictures - most of them are of Scotland or have a
Scottish theme. We have sold his pictures before and people tend to snap
them up. The money we raise will pay for Kennys phone calls to me. I speak
to him every day and it helps him cope."
Mrs Richey also revealed that Kenny, who has diabetes, was recently in
hospital following a stomach complaint.
"His stomach completely swelled up and he was feeling unwell so they took
him into hospital and took a biopsy from his stomach. Hes still waiting
for the results.
"Ive been so worried about him. Hopefully Ill be able to cheer him up a
bit by telling him that the paintings have been sold," she said.
Richey, 40, started drawing after jail bosses relaxed rules on condemned
men being allowed to paint or draw. A friend sent brushes, paints and
paper to his cell at Ohios Mansfield Correctional Institution.
Bidding for Richeys two paintings ends on Tuesday, but the paintings can
be bought immediately for 14.95 each.
The description on the website for River and Boat says: "This item is an
original hand-painted picture on paper. It shows a beautiful Scottish
landscape, with a boat moored in the foreground and a backdrop of
The message posted alongside Scottish Boxing Champ says: "This item is an
original hand-drawn picture on paper with card backing. It depicts
Scottish boxing champion Andy Smith in the ring, with a Scottish flag
Richey was sentenced to death after being convicted of arson and the
aggravated murder of a girl in 1986.
Since his conviction, evidence has emerged casting serious doubt on
Richeys guilt. Despite this, the state of Ohio intends to press ahead with
the execution process.
But federal judges believe prosecutors may have broken the law by seeking
the lethal injection for the crime - aggravated felony murder - which did
not carry the death penalty at the time of Richeys trial.
If it is found that the prosecution acted illegally, Richeys lawyers may
be able to force a retrial or completely overturn the conviction.
Richey has always protested his innocence and even refused a plea bargain
to serve 10 years in prison.
(source: The Scotsman)
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